Our research for NAW’s just-released Innovate to Dominate: The 12 Edition in the Facing the Forces of Change® Series revealed a powerful new opportunity for distributors — the future of business is up for grabs! There is a race to leverage technology and human-centric forces of change to help business customers reinvent how work is done and how individuals and organizations learn.

As disruptive solutions and pioneering services help customers reimagine their business, sourcing preferences will also shift. Loyalty will migrate to the providers that best enable the future of business for customers. Winning is about working with customers and leading them to the future. Winning is about finding your way in the age of B2B innovation.

NAW is launching a series of webinars and podcasts that are sponsored by PROS to help usher in the age of B2B innovation and to explain how Innovate to Dominate can help. To stay in-the-know on this Innovate to Dominate Series, sign up here.

In our first webinar, “Welcome to the Age of B2B Innovation,” Richard Blatcher, Director of Industry Marketing and Business Intelligence at PROS, and I were joined by Mike DeCata, President and CEO of Lawson Products. Mike explained how his company is unlocking the potential of Lawson’s teammates by stripping away value-killing activities. Lawson is reinventing what it means to be a local distributor by placing products at customers ahead of demand, and by offloading customer jobs to improve productivity and offset labor shortages for mechanics and drivers.

Mike went on to explain how to integrate data analytics and human-centric innovations. Lawson is a heavy user of heat maps for understanding usage patterns. A disruptive communication tool is used to create real-time knowledge sharing among salespeople. Lawson’s process emphasizes continuous incremental improvements, applied across every function from sales to operations to human resources. Over time, steady process leads to big changes. The full conversation in the webinar is a must-listen and is available here.

Your plans and processes may be different, and asking the right questions is essential to plot your course. In our work on NAW’s Innovate to Dominate, leaders shared their most important questions and we found answers. More importantly, Innovate to Dominate provides an innovation roadmap for every distributor.

We’ve identified 10 of the most important questions and will explore them in a series of upcoming posts on the NAW Blog Distributing Ideas:

  • How can you enable the future of business for customers?
  • What is the value of being local?
  • How will you run your business when the value chain runs on data?
  • Do you know how to win by being human?
  • Is your company a leader in your communities?
  • Why should you create an innovation ecosystem?
  • What is your plan to reinvent your culture?
  • Are your leaders skilled at storytelling?
  • Do you have a plan to dominate?
  • Can we start a movement?

As a Fellow for the NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence, I am committed to NAW’s cause of helping distribution set the standard for B2B innovation and supporting every distributor’s efforts to not only survive but thrive in the digital age. Please share your ideas for distribution and stories of innovation with me at [email protected].